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November 29, 2023 9:57 pm

National News

Protecting Your Personal Data in a Post-Roe World

Credit: iStock

Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn

Law enforcement is already using online search history and other personal data to charge pregnant people with crimes. One woman in Mississippi, a black mother of three, has been charged with second degree murder after experiencing a stillbirth. The charge is based in part on an internet search for abortion pills. Here are a few ways to protect your data so it is less likely to be used against you.

Period trackers

Ever since the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in May, privacy concerns related to period trackers have been getting a lot of attention. While it’s a good idea to delete your period tracker, or switch to an app like Euki that does not use a cloud service, that’s a spoonful of information in the ocean of big data.

Internet history

Internet search history is already being used in criminal cases related to pregnancy. To protect your search history, consider using a paid VPN, or else make use of privacy focused web browsers like Firefox Focus, Brave, or Tor when looking for information related to periods, pregnancy, or abortion services. Similarly, use a privacy focused search engine like DuckDuckGo instead of Google.

Text messages

Instead of using text messages, Facebook Messenger, or Whatsapp, use applications with end-to-end encryption like Signal or Keybase. With end-to-end encryption, it does not matter if law enforcement tries to force Signal or Keybase to provide your messages. The companies do not have access to your messages, so there is nothing for them to turn over. Signal even has a timed deletion setting that permanently deletes messages off of everyone’s phone after a certain period of time.

Location data

Applications that track your location often sell that information, and even when they do not, law enforcement can demand the companies turn over location data. Turn off location tracking on your phone and google accounts. For applications like Google Maps that require your location to work, set them to “only while in use.”

Mobile ad ID

Mobile ad ID allows applications to access your location and personal data to give you more relevant ads. They can then sell that information, or be forced to give it to law enforcement. Turn off mobile ad ID on your phone to limit advertiser’s access to your data.

Protecting your data privacy can be difficult. For more information on how to protect your data, or for step-by-step instructions on how to switch web browsers or change your phone’s privacy settings, visit the Digital Defense Fund.